Major Party Competition Reaches a Decade-High in the 2021 State Legislative Elections

The percentage of state legislative seats being contested by both major parties in 2021 is higher than at any point in the past decade, according to a Ballotpedia analysis of candidate filings. Of the 220 seats up for election in New Jersey and Virginia, 93% are set to feature a Democrat versus a Republican on the general election ballot this November. Of the remaining 15 seats, 10 will likely be won by Democrats since they have no Republican competitors and five will likely be won by Republicans.

This is the first state legislative election cycle since at least 2010 where more than 90% of state legislative seats up for election nationwide were contested by both major parties. This increase in major party competition was largely driven by an increased level of competitiveness in the Virginia House of Delegates over the past decade.

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Delegates Receive $8,651 Average in Per Diems from 2021 Sessions

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates earn $17,640 per year and a per diem of $211 while in session, including days off during the session. The per diem is meant to help legislators pay for housing costs ($145/day) and food ($66/day) while in Richmond, but legislators have continued accepting the per diem even during the virtual house sessions of 2021 and 2020. For the 2021 sessions alone, that added up to an average total per diem per delegate of $8,651 — over $800,000 for all 100 delegates, according to reporting by The Virginian-Pilot.

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Virginia Marijuana Legalization Bills Prioritize Licenses and Loans to People with Marijuana Convictions

Marijuana legalization bills are approaching a floor vote in both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate. In addition to removing criminal penalties, the 274-page bills essentially create an entire industry, including regulation of business licenses, creating taxes, and incentivizing entrepreneurs to enter the market.

But Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) said all of that is just a shell.

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Virginia House Passes Bill Extending Unemployment to People Who Can’t Work Due to COVID-19

The House of Delegates passed a bill meant to protect employees from losing unemployment benefits for some employees who can’t work due to COVID-19.  It includes a key provision that provides unemployment benefits for people who don’t go to work because they believe their employer is not following COVID-19 safety standards.

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House Passes Bill to Study Potential Universal Healthcare in Virginia

The House of Delegates voted 55 to 45 on Thursday to initiate a study of how to fund a potential universal healthcare program in Virginia. HB2271 says the study should examine both a publicly-funded model administered by the Commonwealth and a publicly-funded model administered by a private entity. The report would be due in October 2022.

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House Passes Bill to Study Potential Universal Healthcare in Virginia

The House of Delegates voted 55 to 45 on Thursday to initiate a study of how to fund a potential universal healthcare program in Virginia. HB2271 says the study should examine both a publicly-funded model administered by the Commonwealth and a publicly-funded model administered by a private entity. The report would be due in October 2022.

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House Passes Legislation to Help Virginia Administer Vaccinations, Senate Version Waiting to be Heard

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed emergency legislation to speed up the state’s slow vaccination campaign by expanding which health care workers can administer shots to citizens and locations serving as inoculation sites.

House Bill 2333, introduced by Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), passed the House with bipartisan support from committee to a final floor vote in just one day, a process that normally takes multiple meetings of the body.

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Virginia House Subcommittee Votes to Change Bill to Automatically Restore Felon Voting Rights After Release from Prison

Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) both pre-filed bills that would automatically restore felon voting rights after the felons complete their sentences including probation. After discussion in a subcommittee Monday, the two bills will be combined under HJ555, and subcommittee members unanimously voted to change the bills to automatically restore voting rights after the felon has been released from prison, before completion of probation or other elements of the sentence.

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Six Gun Bills Move Through Virginia House Committee

The House Committee on Public Safety (CPS) approved several firearms bills on Friday morning.  The bills include HB 1909, which allows school boards to declare non-school zone property owned by the board as a gun free zone; HB 1992, which prohibits people convicted of assault from owning or possessing a firearm; HB 2128, which increases the firearm sale background check delay from three days to five days, HB2276 which bans plastic firearms and 80 percent receivers; and HB 2295, which bans carrying firearms or stun weapons on Capitol grounds in Richmond. HB2081, which bans carrying firearms at a polling place, passed out of the Privileges and Elections Committee on Wednesday.

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Virginia House Moves to Expand Ballot Drop Boxes, Allow Ballot ‘Curing’

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a voting reform bill on Tuesday. Key provisions of HB 1888 require ballot drop boxes in all localities, allow voters to “cure” or fix errors on their own absentee ballots, and require elections officials to begin processing absentee ballots before Election Day. Additionally, it requires localities to provide ballot marking tools and  screen reader assistance technology for visually impaired voters.

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Second Amendment Advocates Pour Into Virginia’s Capitol for Lobby Day 2021

Buses, a decommissioned ambulance, and lots of cars and trucks traveled through Richmond for hours on Monday afternoon as part of the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s (VCDL) Lobby Day 2021 demonstration. Most vehicles sported VCDL flags and decals; a few also waved Trump flags and other paraphernalia.

“When the first bus came, it just seemed like car after car after car, decked out, horns honking, people waving,” VCDL President Phil Van Cleave said. Car caravans came from all corners of the Commonwealth.

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Candi King and Angelia Williams Graves Win Special Elections for Virginia House Seats

Democratic candidates Candi King and Angelia Williams Graves emerged victorious Tuesday night from special elections for the 2nd and 90th Districts of the Virginia House of Delegates, defeating Republican underdogs Heather Mitchell and Sylvia Bryant.

In the 2nd District, which encompasses the eastern edge of Prince William County along the Potomac River and the northern section of Stafford County, King narrowly won by receiving 51.50 percent (4,386) of the total votes compared to 48.41 percent (4,123) for Mitchell, according to election results tabulated by the Virginia Department of Elections.

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Candi King Wins Democratic Nomination for Virginia’s 2nd House District, Will Face Republican Mitchell in Special Election

Community leader Candi King won the Democratic nomination for the Virginia House of Delegates 2nd District on Sunday and will square off against GOP nominee Heather Mitchell in the January 5 special election.

King, who lives in Prince William County with her family, defeated four other candidates – Pamela Montgomery, Keisha Francis, Nyesha Wilson and Rozia Henson – in the firehouse primary, securing 380 out of 867 votes or 43.83 percent, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

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Heather Mitchell Is Running for the Virginia House of Delegates’ Second District Seat in Special Election

Following Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) resignation from the legislature, Northern Virginia resident Heather Mitchell is running as a Republican candidate in the upcoming special election for the House of Delegates 2nd District.

After Rich Anderson, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman, said multiple people were considering runs for the seat, Mitchell confirmed her bid in an interview with The Virginia Star.

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Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy Stepping Down from House to Focus on Run for Virginia Governor

Virginia State Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) said Tuesday that she was stepping down from her position in the House of Delegates to focus on securing the Democratic nomination for the 2021 gubernatorial election.

Carroll Foy, one of several Democratic candidates for governor, announced the decision in a video posted to social media.

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House and Senate Name Legislators for Virginia Redistricting Commission

Party leaders from the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have appointed the eight lawmakers that will serve on the newly-formed bipartisan redistricting commission tasked with redrawing the Commonwealth’s legislative and congressional lines.

The Senators on the commission will be Steve Newman (R-Bedford), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), George Barker (D-Fairfax County) and Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Amigo Wade, acting director of the Virginia Division of Legislative Services, told The Virginia Star.

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Upcoming General Assembly Session Will Have Legislation Limits

When the General Assembly starts its 2021 regular session in January, the volume of legislation will be much different from years past because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), both the Senate and the House of Delegates will impose limits on the amount of legislation members can introduce for the session.

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Tim Anderson Announces Run for Virginia House of Delegates

Prominent Virginia Beach lawyer Tim Anderson is running for the House of Delegates 83rd District as a Republican candidate.

Anderson, who is already involved with GOP state politics, officially announced his campaign on Tuesday through a press release posted to his Twitter and Facebook profiles.

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Glenn Davis is Determined to Make Second Run at Virginia Lieutenant Governor a Success

Virginia State Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) says he wants to restore the Commonwealth as a bastion of business and help bring increased equity to education throughout the state if elected as lieutenant governor in 2021.

Davis, 47, announced his second run for the position back in September and was the first Republican candidate to enter the 2021 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election, which will take place next November.

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Virginia House Will Remain Virtual in 2021; Republicans Leaders Want to Keep Regular Session at 30 Days

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) announced Monday that the Virginia House of Delegates would continue to meet virtually during the upcoming 2021 General Assembly regular session, just as they did during the special session, because of the current status of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the emailed statement, Filler-Corn’s decision was made after discussions with the Clerk of the House and officials from the Virginia Department of Health, which includes a letter from Virginia State Health Commissioner, Norman Oliver, strongly recommending the House hold sessions virtually “to the greatest extent possible.

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Delegate Sam Rasoul Announces Run for Lieutenant Governor, Joins Crowded List of Hopefuls

Democratic House of Delegates member Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) announced his bid for the lieutenant governor position earlier this week, officially entering the 2021 race.

Rasoul, who has served as a state legislator since 2014, made the announcement Tuesday morning through a video posted to twitter.

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Republican Delegates Call for In-Person Meetings During January General Assembly Session

Two Republican state delegates released a joint statement on Tuesday calling for the Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) to work with members on finding a way to hold in-person meetings during January’s regular General Assembly session.

Delegates Christopher Head (R-Roanoke) and Joseph McNamara (R-Roanoke County) said in the statement they are preparing to be in Richmond for the start of the regular session.

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Senate Passes Majority of Gov. Northam’s Amendments, Concluding Lengthy Special Session

The Virginia Senate on Monday adopted a number of slight changes to legislation and the budget recommended by Governor Ralph Northam, including language for the implementation of the recently-approved redistricting commission.

Overall, including the budget, the Senate passed amendments for ten bills from the House and Senate. Most passage votes were primarily along party lines with a couple amendments garnering unanimous support.

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Virginia’s Second District Candidate Scott Taylor Talks Debate with Opponent Luria and Her Backfiring Smear Ads

Friday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed Virginia House of Delegates candidate Scott Taylor to the show to discuss his debate with incumbent Elaine Luria and her pattern of dishonesty.

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Lawsuit Accuses Delegate Michael Mullin of Violating Separation of Powers

Delegate Michael Mullin (D-Newport News) is accused of violating the separation of powers by serving as an attorney in cases with justices he appoints. The lawsuit asks the court to “disqualify any judge(s) subject to review or reappointment” by Mullin, and to remove Mullin from prosecution of the case.

The suit contends that Mullin’s positions as both a Delegate in the House and an assistant attorney violates Articles III and IV of the Constitution of Virginia.

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Senate Lawmakers Pass Conference Report for Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

During potentially the final day of the lengthy 2020 special session, Senate legislators adopted and passed the conference committee report on a bill that allows judges in certain criminal cases to issue the sentences instead of the jury. 

The conference report that was unanimously agreed upon by the six conferees, two Republicans and two Democrats, passed the Senate by an almost exact party line vote of (Y-22 N-16). 

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Legislation Allowing Localities to Establish Law Enforcement Civilian Review Boards Heads to Governor’s Desk

Compromised legislation that gives localities the authority to establish law enforcement civilian review boards (CRB) successfully passed final votes in the Senate and House of Delegates Wednesday afternoon, and now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Joint conference committee reports for Senate Bill 5035 passed the Senate (21-Y 17-N) and for House Bill 5055 passed the House (53-Y 35-N), mostly along the party lines of both chambers.

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Senate and House Advance Budget Legislation to Conference Committee

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Delegates advanced their biennial budget to a formal conference committee on Wednesday and assigned conferees to represent the bodies, but much of the work on compromising has already been conducted.

Before the two legislative bodies agreed to send the budget to a joint conference committee, however, the Senate first had to adopt a batch of seven committee amendments to the budget legislation. 

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Newly Proposed Law to Reduce Traffic Stops Relating to Marijuana and Other Traffic Offenses, Law Enforcement in Opposition

A bill that aims to reduce unnecessary and targeted traffic stops by limiting what police officers are lawfully allowed to pull drivers over for recently passed the General Assembly and is now awaiting a decision from the governor. 

Nevertheless, law enforcement opposes the legislation on the grounds that it would hurt public safety and lead to more dangers while driving. 

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Former State Delegate Tim Hugo Announces Bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2021

Former member of the Virginia House of Delegates Tim Hugo announced Monday that he is officially entering the 2021 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election.

Hugo is the fourth Republican to enter the race and is the ninth person to announce their candidacy overall.

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Northam Announces More Money for Closed Schools

Governor Ralph Northam is sending an additional $220 million of Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to Virginia’s schools, according to a Thursday press release. The money is intended to help purchase testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and virtual learning technology.

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Senate Lawmakers Send Numerous Bills to Joint Conference Committees with House

The Senate sent a number of bills to be considered by joint conference committees, and appointed conferees to join their colleagues in the House of Delegates to consider legislation on Wednesday.

Three or four Senators and Delegates are assigned to different conference committees and must try to agree on compromised language for similar bills from each body or the legislation will die. If compromised versions are agreed upon, those bills will go back to the House and Senate for a final passage vote.

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In the Dead of Night, House Speaker Filler-Corn Removed Confederate Statues for $83K – and Lied About the Documents, Lawsuit Claims

Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) faces a lawsuit for falsely denying the existence of records documenting the $83,000 removal of the Capitol’s Confederate monuments.

The plaintiff in the case, David Webster II, requested documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from Filler-Corn upon learning she’d removed the Confederate statues and busts. In her response, Filler-Corn states repeatedly “The requested records do not exist.” However, Webster II discovered many of the documents in question.

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Former House Speaker Kirk Cox Is Serious About Bid for Virginia Governor

Longtime state Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) is very serious about running for Virginia governor in the 2021 gubernatorial elections, but he is steadfast on waiting until the rapidly-approaching general elections have concluded to officially announce his campaign. 

Despite recently filing paperwork with the state of Virginia to establish a campaign committee, Cox feels the November election, specifically securing another term for President Trump and congressional seats for Republicans, take priority at the moment. 

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SCC Denies Northam’s Request to Extend Utility Shutoff Moratorium

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied Governor Ralph Northam’s Thursday request to again extend a moratorium on utilities shutoffs until December. The moratorium will end October 5. The SCC had previously warned that they would not consider any further extensions.

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Virginia House Passes $134B Budget with Rental and Utility Assistance, Justice and Police Reform Funding

The Virginia House of Delegates passed its two-year $134 billion budget on Tuesday with specific funding for rental and utility assistance, public education, internet access, affordable housing, criminal justice and police reform.

The revised budget from the House does not perfectly lineup with the proposed budget Governor Ralph Northam presented to the General Assembly at the beginning of the 2020 special session.

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Virginia Senate Committee Advances a Bevy of House Bills to Floor

Democrats in the state Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced numerous House bills relating to policing and justice reform and COVID-19. 

All together the Committee considered 20 bills during the meeting and hastily reported 19 to be considered on the Senate Floor on Friday or sometime next week. 

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Virginia House Caves on Anti Police Bill

Democratic and Republican legislators on the House Courts of Justice Committee killed legislation on Tuesday that would have eliminated the six month mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a law enforcement officer. 

Senate Bill 5032, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) was passed by indefinitely by a vote of 18-Y 1-N 1-A, ending any chance of being signed into law during the 2020 special session. 

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Dangerous Police Reform Bills Keep Moving In VA House

The House Committee on Public Safety conformed multiple bills from the Senate relating to police reform on Monday as the 2020 special session enters its fifth week.

Legislation is conformed when there are two similar bills that have both come out of the House and Senate, and are being considered by committees of the other legislative body.

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Virginia House Committee Kills Senate Bill to Limit Public Health Emergency Orders

The Virginia House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions tabled a Senate bill on Thursday, which called for the limitation of public health emergency orders by the Virginia Health Commissioner.

Sponsored by Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford), Senate Bill 5025 was tabled by a vote of 13-Y 9-N along party lines. 

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House Passes Bill to Make Police Investigation Records Public

The House on Thursday passed legislation that would allow the public to view past police investigative records.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst (D-Montgomery County), passed the Democratic-majority body by a vote of 59-Y 37-N, and three not voting, mostly along party lines except for five Republican delegates voting on the prevailing side.

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Virginia House Passes Mental Health, Earned Sentence Credit Reforms

The Virginia House passed four more pieces of criminal justice reform legislation that will be sent to the Senate, including mandatory local mental health teams, more restrictions on police acquiring military surplus weapons and an expansion of the earned sentence credit program.

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Nightmare on Zoom St: Virginia Dems Pass Woke Bills, Freeze Out GOP

The General Assembly has been in Special Session since August 18. Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement said the session was meant to pass a new budget in light of of COVID-19 and consider criminal and social reform laws. In the past three weeks, the Assembly has considered bills ending qualified immunity, eliminating minimum sentences for assaults on police officers, and allowing early release of violent offenders.

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Virginia Del. Glenn Davis Announces His Run for Lieutenant Governor

Thursday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredericks welcomed Glenn Davis to the program to announce his run for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and discuss a Democrat bill that would crush small businesses in his state.

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House Revives and Passes Bill Ending Qualified Immunity for Virginia Law Enforcement Officers

The House on Tuesday reconsidered and passed House Bill 5013, a controversial measure that allows law enforcement officers to be held liable in court for actions taken while on duty without qualified immunity as a defense.

The bill was originally defeated by the House on Friday (47-Y 48-N 3-A) with several Democrats opposing their party to vote in opposition. The bill was also defeated last Monday in the Appropriations Committee before being reconsidered and advanced.

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House Passes Eight Police Reform Bills, Republicans Feel Unheard

House Democrats passed eight different policing reform bills during its Friday session, leaving Republicans lawmakers feeling ignored and unheard by the majority. 

The policing bills spanned from banning no-knock search warrants and the use of neck restraints by law enforcement to requiring that officers report any wrongdoings by their colleagues or be subject to discipline.

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Del. Rob Bloxom Commentary: Virginia Democrats’ Bill Proposals Are ‘Nothing Short of Shocking’

The Virginia House of Delegates was under Republican control for more than twenty years. This year, the Democratic party is in control of the House of Delegates, along with the Senate, and the Governor’s Mansion. This is the first time in three decades in which one party has had complete control.

The Republicans left the present Democrat controlled house with the title of being the number one rated state to do business, according to CNBC. We were also rated the third safest state in which to live and first in recidivism in the United States.

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House Committee Advances Bill Allowing for Early Release of Violent Offenders Through Earned Sentence Credits

The House Committee on Courts of Justice advanced a bill Wednesday that would allow for the early release of violent offenders by implementing a new earned sentence credit program.

The bill bars prisoners convicted of capital murder and most acts of violence involving minors from earning credits, but, conversely, includes first-time offenders convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, carjacking, rape and child pornography, among others.

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Democratic Delegate Calls Republican Opposition Comments Racist as Bill to End Qualified Immunity Advances

Before a bill to end qualified immunity was advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday, Delegate Jeffrey Bourne (D-Richmond City) called the language used by Republican opposition to the legislation examples of systemic and institutionalized racism.

“I hope everyone on this committee has listened to the type of language that has been used, the types of language that has been used to talk about why we should oppose this bill is exactly the types of systemic and institutionalized racism we are trying to dismantle,” Bourne said during the committee meeting.

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Virginia House Delegate Member Marcus Simon Weighs in on Amendment One and What it Really Means

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredericks welcomed special guest and Virginia House of Delegates member Marcus Simon to talk about Amendment One and the issues surrounding it for the re-districting in Virginia.

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